Manny Machado makes a juggling game in a Padres win

DENVER – One of the best third basemen of his generation, Manny Machado has been a lifelong defensive tackle.

But his eighth-inning catch of the Padres’ 3-2 victory on Saturday afternoon at Coors Field? Machado may have outdone himself this time around.

The Padres were holding on to a lead of one, and Rocky had put the tying game at third base with one out. Mike Moustakas lifted a pop-up foul down the left field line. Machado leaned against the wall, slid on the dirt, and then started playing a baseball—first off his glove, then again off his glove and on his facethen from under the bill of his hat, and finally to his bare hand.

“I caught her,” Machado said with a smirk. “I have no idea what the hell happened, honestly. It hit me somewhere, I don’t know where. My nose hurt. My lips hurt. I’m glad the run didn’t score.”

Really, that last part is key. Machado’s catch was silly enough. Moreover, he had what it takes to make an accurate throw into the field, which prevented Ezequiel Tovar from scoring.

“It’s not something you can practice with,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “Those are just instincts. And the desire to catch the ball that was going to come out big at the time.”

Right-hander Nick Martinez stranded Tovar by getting Randall Grechuk short. Josh Hader followed by going 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Padres had their first three-game winning streak since May 1.

“I think it will probably be soon,” Tovar said. “I think I probably would have done it if I had gone, I don’t know. … Any time you lose it’s frustrating. But you also have to give credit to Machado on that play – he brought the ball back, made a great play.”

It’s hard to fault Tovar for a one-in-a-million kind of play. With Machado approaching a foul pitch, the Padres’ third baseman looked at the possibility of letting the ball fall. But at the last minute, he decided that going out was too precious. In addition, he thought he was close enough to look at the painting.

“In the end, you just have to take a risk and try to catch it and keep this guy there,” Machado said. “…I mean, once you make that decision, you have to do it. Running in there, it’s just, ‘Do I catch it? I don’t? Is it deep enough?’”

Melvin said, “That’s understanding the enormity of the play and what can happen. It’s just a lot of good things going on in one game. You can’t teach that.”

All around, it was an excellent day for Machado. He finished 3-for-5 and played a strong third base, even out of the catch. He also took advantage of a mental error from Rockies left fielder Kyle Freeland in the top of the first inning.

“Look, he knows how to play baseball all the way,” said Melvin.

Intelligent baserunning Machado gave San Diego an early lead. From there, the Padres employed a surprise pitching strategy, pairing left fielder Ryan Weathers with Drew Carlton.

It wasn’t traditional. But the Padres engineered five innings of Coors Field’s two-run ball from the Weathers/Carlton piggyback, each allowing two runs each. They will take it.

“It really gave them a bunch of different looks from the left hand and right hand for sure,” said catcher Austin Nola.

The Padres clinched the lead with a lead of the sixth on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s single. From there, the Bulls were fantastic, holding Rocky scoreless for the last four frames.

With a little help from Machado Fishing.

“Not just hunting,” Nola said. I swung it four times and then caught it? Then he thought that as soon as he caught it, he immediately threw it away.

“This was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen.”

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